lighting for plants

greenclaws UKzone8aNovember 19, 2007

I have a thriving 24x12x12 tank with 4 Tiger barbs, 1 Sucking Loach, 1 Opaline Gourami, 2 Serpae Tetras, I Neon Tetra and 1 Harlequin Tetra.

Currently it's plantless with a pea gravel base and a few rocks. I would like to be able to grow plants sucessfully and have just won some Java Moss from eBayUK as a starter to see how it goes. I plan to 'plant' the moss onto some rocks using nylon hairnet as a fastening method.

I have been using an ordinary household flourescent tube as my light source, its a T8 15W/35, 16/17 inch and the timer keeps it on for 12 hrs a day. What do I need to do to get plants to grow sucessfully...I guess I need a proper light for a start...if so what type as I am confused by the choices?

The tank is in indirect light and I do get some very dark green algae on the glass (easy to get rid of), on the gravel (harder to eradicate and am getting more and more darker coloured gravel than it's original golden colour) and also on the few plants that I did try and grow last year (really hard to get off the leaves, they eventually faded away).

I like the look of planted tanks, so would appreciate any advice you can give me before I set out to buy whatever I need.

Thanks, Gill.

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james_ny(z7 NY)

Java fern grows without much light you may be ok with your current setup. If is doesn't grow add a second bulb. The aquarium lights are very overpriced.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:42AM
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Grolites are supposed to be designed for plant growth.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:17PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hi, thanks for the replies. Just been checking prices on-line and yes, I agree the price of the special light tubes seems dear! Plus there are so many types to chose from. Guess I should get over to the fish store and check them out. Just wondered with the algae growth, was I leaving the light on too long, and if I added plants, would I need to leave it on even longer or have a stronger light source which would make the dreaded algae grow at an even faster rate of knots!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 3:22PM
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The algae was a reflection of lighting. To compensate for algae, people can do a variety of things. One is to cut back on the hours of light. Another is to regulate by chemicals sold at your petshop. Other people put fish in there that love algae and others put floating plants in to cut back the light.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 11:20AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Have been growing both submerged and emerged plants for many years. Here's my two cents about the startup theory.
Since you already have the tank running you'll probably just want to add some rather than start over. So I'd select some very hardy ones that don't establish in the substrate.
Anubias and the Java moss and ferns come to mind.. I sometimes think they would grow in a closet lol. Very adaptable and hardy. They can and do thirve in incredibly low light . Attach them to a stone or driftwood and your done .
Now if you want one of those fantastic Amano style tanks you need a lot more prep as well as
I seriously doubt you could do this in an established tank. I think the best way is to plant a whole bunch of stem plants and provide at least 5 watts per gallon from the get go. As these grow prune them out and do your landscape, Algae will starve lol.
The runaway most important thing is the quality and duration of light.
But if you just want to add some plants to your tank go with the named species and control algae with low light.
I think it it VERY easy to grow plants . The tough part is growing them well with many species.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 5:46PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hello again and thanks for the responses and latest info. Yes, I would like to add plants rather than do a complete new start up, but had read so much I had got swamped by all the info available and was thinking I needed to go down the line of needing to change or add at least to the gravel sand, finer gravel, Laterite, special plant food, CO2, etc.etc.
Well, the Java Moss duly arrived several days ago, not that thrilled with it though, large amount, but very bitty and lots of brown. Have it in a large wide bowl in window at present trying to sort out whats what. Lots of 'detritus' in there too, bit wary about plopping that lot into my tank. Have managed to separate some bits that are really green, have them in shallow plastic food takeaway trays on top of condensation cover of tank, under the hood, getting extra warmth and light in hope it will grow a bit more before planting on rocks or whatever.
Have not managed to get to the fish shop yet, will check out the Anubias you suggested, and maybe some better Java Moss too! Have also 'altered down' the light timer slightly.
I have a large heavily planted outdoor pond (goldfish, koi, golden and blue orfe) could I utilise a floater such as Duckweed, (of which I have an excess at the moment, no idea where it came from, it just appeared overnight!)or could stem plants like Elodea be of any use? (filled 2 wheelbarrows last spring with excess so I could spare a BIT for the tank I guess) Realise I will have to ensure they are squeaky clean before using them, if suitable....any remedies or are they not to be used??
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 6:37AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

have often noticed how much easier it is to raise plants in an outdoor pool as opposed to an aquarium. I guess the real difference is the amount of light. It is very hard to duplicate the sun lol. Naturally the different species of plants require different amounts so those that thrive under lights are those on the lower end of light requirements.
Could i suggest some of the many aquarium plant forums that will give you specific info, Tropica is good .Lists many different species with their requirements.
A planted aquarium can be as simple as you choose depending on the proper choices for the conditions you provide.
The two that you name are on the higher end of light requirements but both are very adaptable. As you noted they are downright invasive in the right
The various sites will also give you info on controlling pests . You do not necessarily have to spend a fortune to keep a few plants!! lol gary

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 5:16AM
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Java Moss will grow in just about any light, but be very careful using any netting with small fish, unless it's secured VERY tightly, with no loose bits, to prevent any of small fish from getting trapped in it.

One of the best platforms for java moss is natural wood, with just enough roughness to the surface to allow the minscule rootlets to grip. I find that if I wrap a hunk of java moss around and under a piece of rootwood, it will hold it down and the moss will soon attach on it's own. Any that is trapped underneath just rots away.

Java moss is a good means of adding filtration too, as it will trap a lot of debris, but it does have the drawback of getting drawn up into filters if it isn't held down.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 4:45PM
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